I have always assumed that access to clean, safe water will always be an option for someone like me who lives in a developed country. Au contraire. Over the weekend, Boston and several surrounding communities lost their supply of fresh water when a main pipe that funnels waters to these locations broke. Until further notice, we have to boil any tap water for at least a minute before consuming as the water now coming through our faucets is from open- air reservoirs, homes to geese and ducks who are not really particular about where they relieve themselves...yeah. I discovered the situation by checking Twitter after downing two large glasses of tap water. I had a minor freak-out but determined that the water I had drunk was not part of the pond cocktail now flowing from my faucet.
The run on bottled water in local stores and the unseasonably warm weather of last weekend prompted some to label this this "aquapocalypse." Which is both funny and a tad over dramatic. I mean, seriously, there are over a billion people in this world who don't have access to clean water. These people bathe in and drink water contaminated by animal and human feces as well as a myriad of other contaminants. As inconvenient as this water situation is, it's so very temporary and the water that we are currently using is 10 times as better as the highest quality water found in developing countries.
In 2005, the United Nations estimated that 1.1 billion people did not have access to clean water and 2.6 billion people lacked access to basic sanitation. The UN's Water for Life plan promotes efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water-related issues such as cutting the number of people without access to safe water in half by 2015. Progress has been slower since more donations and aid have been going towards health, education, transport, energy, and agriculture. However, it's argued that all these categories would see improvement if populations had access to clean drinking water and sanitary living conditions.
Beyond that first initial panic with the Boston water crisis, I feel grateful for the small conveniences afforded where I live. The clean water will soon return, but its absence opened my eyes to the value of clean water and the hundreds of millions who live every day without it.
Image found here.